The 2016 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest will be held June 12 – 16.
Each year more than half a million students just like you participate. You will choose a historical topic related to the annual theme, and then conduct primary and secondary research. You will look through libraries, archives and museums, conduct oral history interviews, and visit historic sites. After you have analyzed and interpreted your sources, and have drawn a conclusion about the significance of your topic, you will then be able to present your work in one of five ways: as a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary, or a website.
Questions about performances, websites, exhibits, papers, or documentaries?
Read the rules
Before you begin work on an entry for competition, you, your teacher, and your parents should carefully read the Contest Rule Book / Contest Rule Book in Spanish. Contact your regional or affiliate coordinator to learn if any rules have been revised since the publication of this rule book, and for more information on topics, sources, and deadlines. Find your affiliate coordinator.
Understand the Theme
Each year your research must connect to the NHD theme. The theme changes each year so if you do NHD every year, you will not repeat a theme. The themes are chosen to be broad enough to encourage investigation of topics ranging from local history to world history, and from ancient time to the recent past. To understand the historical importance of your topic you need to ask questions about time, place and context; cause and effect; change over time; and impact and significance. You must consider not only when and where events happened, but also why they occurred and what factors contributed to their development.
Choosing a Topic
Topics for research are everywhere! Think about a time in history or individuals or events that are interesting to you. Start a list. Read books, newspapers or other sources of information and add to your list. Talk with relatives, neighbors, or people you know who have lived through a particular time in history that interests you and add more ideas. Keep thinking, reading and talking to people until you have many ideas that are interesting. Now go back through the list and circle the ideas that connect with the theme. From the ideas that you circled, select one to begin your research. Keep your list because you might need it again. Selecting a National History Day topic is a process of gradually narrowing down the area of history (period or event) that interests you to a manageable subject. For example, if you’re interested in Native Americans and the theme is Leadership and Legacy in History, a natural topic would be treaty rights. Now from there, you would consider the resources you have available to you—perhaps your local historical society—and possibly choose a Native American/U.S. treaty based in your affiliate’s history. Your process might look something like this: